Israel frees two hostages, the hour and a half raid in Rafah: the background

It lasted an hour and a half and involved intelligence services, elite units and air forces the operation with which the two Israeli hostages Fernando Marman, 61, and Louis Har, 70, were freed in Rafah, in the south of the Gaza Strip. The entire operation was coordinated by a war room of the Shin Bet’s internal intelligence services, Israeli media reported.

The raid involved elite units of the Yamam counter-terrorism unit of the police, the Shin Bet and the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). At 01:49, explained IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi, Israeli forces raided the apartment on the second floor of a building where the two hostages were being held with explosives. The three captors were immediately killed, while the special forces “shielded with their bodies” to the hostages.

The Yamam chief told Haaretz that the hostages were taken away from the second floor with the help of ropes. Both actively participated. The troops, he stressed, had been instructed not to shoot any unarmed person and to avoid any act that might endanger possible hostages.

As the raid took place in Rafah, a key aspect was also ensuring the return of the hostages to Israel. Immediately after the special forces raid, Hamas men opened fire from nearby buildings, while the Israeli air force went into action, bombing Hamas military sites and command centers. Hamas forces attempted to regroup to take back the hostages but without success. One of their vehicles that had given chase was attacked from the air. On the ground, the escape was covered by the Shayetet 13 commando of the navy and the 7th Armored Brigade. “Many terrorists were eliminated in last night’s action” in addition to the three killed in the apartment, Halevi said. Hamas reports 100 people killed.

About an hour after being pulled from the apartment, Marman and Har were taken out of Rafah in armored vehicles and then put on a helicopter that took them to Israel, to the Sheba medical center in Ramat Gan. After undergoing medical tests, the two were found in good condition and were able to hug their families again. Of the men involved in the raid, only one was slightly injured.

The operation was followed minute by minute in the war room where Halevi, the head of the Shin Bet Ronen Bar, the heads of the police, military intelligence and air force and the head of IDF operations were gathered. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant also joined later. The IDF and Shin Bet worked “for a long time” on the rescue plan, based on intelligence information. “We were waiting for the right conditions to be able to put it into practice,” Halevi said.

Who are the freed hostages?

The two hostages, both Israelis with dual Argentine nationality, had been kidnapped in Kibbutz Nir Yiyzhak during the violent Hamas attack on October 7, when 1,200 people were massacred and 253 others kidnapped. Marman, 61, and Har, 70, were kidnapped together with Clara Marman, 62, sister of the first and companion of the second. A third sister, Gabriela, and her 17-year-old daughter Mia Leimberg were also kidnapped. The three women were freed at the end of November, as part of the exchange organized with Hamas. Marman, her sister Gabriela and Mia were visiting the kibbutz for the Jewish holiday of Simchat Torah.

The liberation of Marman and Har is only the second successful operation of its kind since the beginning of the war. In October the IDF managed to free the soldier Ori Megidish. Another operation failed and resulted in the killing of a hostage. In another dramatic episode, three hostages who managed to free themselves were killed by mistake by Israeli soldiers.

Hamas’ announcement: “Three Israeli hostages dead in raid on Strip”

Hamas for its part has announced that three of the Israeli hostages injured in Israeli raids in the Gaza Strip have died. This was stated in an audio message by Abu Obaida, spokesperson for the armed wing of the group, the al-Qassam Brigades. On Sunday, Hamas reported two dead hostages and eight others injured due to Israeli operations.

According to Abu Obaida, Hamas will not reveal the names of the hostages it claims are dead until the fate of the other injured hostages is “clear”.

Al Mayadeen: “100 dead in raid in Rafah”. Hamas: “Genocide”

The death toll from the massive Israeli Defense Forces attack on the city of Rafah has reportedly risen to 100 deaths. The Lebanese TV channel Al Mayadeen reported this, adding that more than 230 people were injured. Most of the victims of the attack were women and children.

It was previously reported that Israeli Air Force planes were carrying out targeted strikes on Al-Huda and Al-Rahma mosques, where many refugees are located. The Palestinian Red Crescent reported shelling of residential buildings in the surrounding area and the organization’s headquarters.

Hamas has condemned Israel’s latest airstrikes on Rafah, saying they represent “a broadening of the scale of the massacres it is committing against our people.” “The Nazi occupation army’s attack this evening on the city of Rafah, which has so far claimed the lives of more than a hundred martyrs, is considered a continuation of the genocidal war and forced displacement attempts it is waging against our Palestinian people,” the terrorist group wrote in a press release.

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